Did you click on that link looking for date ideas? Or fun things to do on your own?
Good news! You will find that information here! However. I have cleverly disguised a Giant Life Lesson as a listicle and that lesson is:
we are the only people who are responsible for our happiness.
HA! I lured you in with a Pinterest-friendly image and nice, number-based headline and then I tricked you into talking about deep stuff! THE JOKE IS ON ALL OF US, INTERNET.
Because here’s the thing: it’s not fair, reasonable, healthy, or realistic to expect one single person to fulfill all our needs. It’s not particularly considerate to shoehorn my BFF into a JLo concert when she’d rather be in a tiny, dirty club watching The Melvins.
It’s not really fair to drag my husband to the latest Wes Anderson movie and then sulk because he only liked it 80% (instead of 110% like I want him to.)
In a perfect world, our partners and closest friends make us better people. They complement us and challenge us and love weird roadside attractions exactly as much as we do.
When we suggest a road trip or a dance class or an Ethiopian restaurant they respond with a string of excited emojis.
But that’s not always the case. Putting our happiness in the hands of others is an exercise in disappointment management.
If we put our plans on hold till we find a co-pilot, we might be waiting forever. Dragging a disinterested person to something we’re excited and passionate about is a recipe for resentment.
So let’s not do that.
Instead, let’s fill our own damn cups with literal and proverbial wine. Let’s do the stuff we love doing even if that means we’re doing it alone. Doing things solo makes us more interesting, independent, creative, capable, fulfilled, and self-reliant. And those qualities make us better partners and better friends.Being good at being alone makes you better at being together. Click To Tweet
14 dates you should take yourself on
Take yourself to a matinee
Yes, you could take yourself to a normal, 7 pm movie. But those cost $12! And they’re filled with 15-year-olds who will make out in the seat in front of you when you’re JUST TRYING TO ANSWER THE PRE-MOVIE TRIVIA THANKS.
Matinees are cheap, awesome, and usually under-attended.
You can sit exactly where you want, buy exactly the treats you want, and if you hate the movie, you can get up and leave. (<- One of my favorite, most empowering moves.)
If you live in Minneapolis, I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind you that The Riverview has two matinee shows during the summer, one during the winter and they’re always $2. Two. dollars.
Take a community ed class
Nobody in your life wants to learn underwater weaving/belly dancing/stained-glass making? Their loss, my dude. Community ed classes are a low-cost, low-pressure, low-commitment way to learn a new skill.
They’re especially great if you’re interested in something that no one else in your life cares about. You can learn a new skill free from your partner’s eyerolls and you’ll be surrounded by other people who are equally excited about this one obscure topic!
Have a ride-all-you-can public transportation adventure
Public transport as a source of fun and pleasure? Yes. YES. This is actually one of my favorite ways to spend a free afternoon!
Buy yourself a Ride All Day pass on the public transport of your choice. Get on the next bus or train that arrives at your stop and ride it till you see something interesting.
Get off and explore a new neighborhood. Once you’re done exploring, get on the next bus or train and lather, rinse, repeat. It’s such a fun, affordable way to get to know your city!
Take yourself out to eat
It doesn’t have to be fancy and it doesn’t have to be expensive – though it’s okay if it is! It is important that you give your self-date the same attention and care that you’d give a ‘real’ date.
For me, that means looking at the menu ahead of time and getting excited about what I’m going to order, wearing a cute outfit, and giving my meal the attention it deserves (re: not scrolling through Instagram while cramming noodles into my face.)
If you feel shy about eating on your own, bring a book and sit at the bar!
Attend an open mic or improv night
You’re sitting in the dark, being entertained – it’s not like you could talk to your date anyway!
Again, if this is one of your first solo dates or you’re feeling shy, bring a book or journal, buy yourself a drink, and sit on the edge so you’re not hemmed in by big groups of canoodling couples.
Bonus: open mic nights are usually free and improv shows are usually very affordable. You’re good-looking and you’re a cheap date. Win/win!
Take a dance class or attend a social dance night
Lots of bars and dance studios host open dance nights for ‘social dances’ (the types of dances you do with a partner.) The people you’ll find there are usually experienced dancers who’d love to partner with you for a few dances and show you the steps – all you have to do is follow along!
If you’re not quite ready to dance with strangers, enroll in a dance class. At The Tapestry Folk Dance Center you can learn Bollywood, Contra, ballet, line-dancing, or the waltz – for as little as $6 per class!
Get up early and take yourself out for breakfast before work
There’s something so sneaky and luxurious about starting a workday with a little decadence. “Oh what’s that? You were sitting in traffic and eating a Lara bar at 8 am? I was eating french toast on the patio of my favorite cafe. NBD.”
Set your alarm for an hour and a half earlier than usual and maybe lay out your clothes and lunch and head to bed a bit early. Choose a cafe that’s conveniently located – either on your route or near home or work – and duck in for an early morning date with yourself. Lovely!
Breakfast solo dates are particularly good for people who aren’t 100% comfortable eating by themselves. You’re a lot less likely to be tucked among couples at 8:15 am!
Watch a sunset + eat an awesome snack
Sunsets aren’t just for couples and cliche proposals; they’re gorgeous and calming for everybody. Google ‘best places for sunset [city name]’ and find your way to one 20 minutes before sun down. Bring a snack of your choice and/or a book or journal and enjoy.
Concerts! Yes! Even if you feel a little awkward at first!
I’m a pretty confident go-out-aloner but solo concert-going tripped me up for ages. Everyone is there with their friends! Everyone is taking group photos and wearing themed outfits and CLEARLY they’re all staring at the weird lady who’s dancing in the corner, alone.
Newsflash: nobody’s looking at you. Everyone else is too busy taking their group photos and trying to remember where they parked to notice that you’re there alone. And if they do notice, they’ll probably think “What an awesome, independent human!”
Solo concert-going is amazing. You can sing along with every song without worrying that you’re annoying your friend. You can stand up or sit down or dance your ass off, with no concern for your friend’s site lines or energy level.
You don’t have to worry about anyone getting drunk, tired, or going home with some cutie they met in line for drinks. You can stay for all three encores or leave after an hour because you heard the one song you came to hear.
Take a day trip
It’s lovely to take day trips with your partner or BFF. It can be just as lovely – or lovlier, even! – to take them on your own!
Poke around the shops for as long as you’d like. Follow the signs towards the beach or state park because you want to. Have coffee in a cafe, lunch at a diner, and then double scoop of mid-afternoon ice cream without worrying about anyone else’s appetite or dietary restrictions.
Solo day trips are particularly awesome during those ‘seasons’ when your partner is regularly occupied, watching football or fishing or playing soccer. Let them do their thing, while you do yours!
Head to a museum
I find art museums oddly exhausting and if we’re at one together, I’ll probably alternate between moping, sitting on benches, and rushing through the exhibits.
Solo museum attendance allows you to go at your own pace, even if that means scuttling through to the over-priced gift shop or chatting with one docent for an hour about the merits of Degas.
Go to a specialty food store filled with your favorite foods
OBVIOUSLY, I’d go to a cheese shop but maybe you be happiest at a wine store or a fancy butchery or Penzeys Spices.
Head there on your own and spend half an hour poring over the inventory and chatting with the staff. Ask them which products are new and which ones they’re obsessed with. Sample everything you can possibly sample.
Then splurge on a few lovely things (I’m looking at you, $34 Madagascar vanilla beans) and head home and make something amazing. And you can eat it all yourself! You don’t even need to share!
Have a solo spa day
It’s not unusual for ladies to have spa days with their BFFs, but what if you took one on your own? Imagine a day of almost complete silence and pampering.
No gossiping while you got a pedi, no idle chit chat about how good the massage was, no re-hashing work stuff while drinking cucumber water. A solo spa date can be an even calmer, more rejuvenating experience than going with a friend!
Go antiquing or thrifting
Linger over that collection of spoons for as long as you want. Try on 24 different pairs of jeans. Walk into that antique store and walk out again 30 seconds later. Look at that vintage coat, try it on, feel unsure, leave, and then come back and buy it. When you’re doing it on your own, you don’t need to worry about anyone else’s schedule or annoyance-level!
But I want to hear from you! Do you ever take yourself on solo dates? How do you keep from piling all your happiness expectations on your friends, family, or partner?
P.S. If you’re in relationship but you’re not 100% it’s the right one, I have a checklist for you!